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30 March 2021 | Story Dikgapane Makgetha | Photo Supplied
Social Work students at the UFS are working with the relevant stakeholders in an Engaged Teaching and Learning service-learning project to promote and respect children’s rights.

The protection of children’s rights is the principal achievement on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 Agenda. Emphasis has always been on the promotion and respect of children’s rights. Since the SDGs are grounded in a child rights-based approach, the University of the Free State (UFS) Social Work students – by engaging in a multi-disciplinary methodology – involve all the relevant stakeholders in their Engaged Teaching and Learning service-learning module project. 

The social partners, which included the South African Police Service (Child Protection Unit), the Department of Social Development, the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Health, faith-based organisations, and other children’s advocacy agents, were involved from inception until the apex launch of the project. 

Access to basic human rights

In their exit level, fourth-year Social Work students participate in community work practicums, which incorporates the theoretical development process in adherence to the objectives of their community work. The initial phase of the project involved the situation analysis exercise, which the students implemented through collaboration with the Rekgonne Primary School action committee. 

The outcome of the survey indicated that some learners were exposed to physical and sexual abuse. It was also found that they did not have access to basic human rights such as education, health care, and social grants due to the absence of the required legal documents. From the interactive discussions that took place during the launch, it emerged that some children do not have birth certificates required for school registration and access to social grants. 

Through the students’ community project, a platform was created where important skills and information could be shared among all important role players (who are in different professions and guardians of children’s human rights). It is believed that since learners are spending more hours in school, educators would be the primary detectors to notice signs of negligence and potentially adverse circumstances among their learners.

Role players collaborate to make a difference

Through the scholarship of engagement, students succeeded in engaging with the community to attend to societal challenges (violated children’s rights). In order to realise the outcome of the project, continuous collaboration among all role players must be sustained. All parties adopted a resolution to create safe environments both at school and at home by supporting families and caregivers.

Government partners that participated were determined to strengthen protection systems and improve child welfare, reinforcing the implementation of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.  Educators were empowered and supported in the mandate of the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC). This is an initiative that involves stakeholders in improving the quality of education for all children and addresses issues of safety and well-being for all children. 

News Archive

New security measures for Rag fundraising
2012-01-25

The University of the Free State will no longer allow first-year students to sell Ritsems or to shake their cans for change at traffic robots in Bloemfontein in an effort to raise funds for Rag Community Service.

This decision follows after an evaluation has been done in 2011 and 2012 concerning the safety risk for students during this type of sales at road crossings.
 
The new security measures have specifically been implemented for this type of sales since last year.
 
The measures included, among others, that students should be obliged to wear brightly coloured safety jackets during sales, continuous supervision of first-year students by senior students to ensure that students keep to the rules of the road, and limiting the sales hours at robots.
 
Through notices in the media, an appeal was made on motorists to keep a lookout for students raising money for Rag Community Service. The measures were implemented and the effects thereof for students’ safety during sales at robots monitored since last year. This follows after a student, Ms Hanje Pistorius, was hit by a reckless driver in 2010 and she subsequently lost her leg as a result of the accident. 
 
Although, from all appearances, the new measures are a positive contribution to protect students even more, the UFS decided to abolish the sales and fund-raising actions at traffic robots. As reckless drivers would not necessarily take notice of the extra measures, the risk to students at robots stay unchanged. 
 
"The UFS sets the safety of its students as first priority and considers it in the best interest of students to not expose first-years to the risk during our Rag programme,” says Mr Rudi Buys, Dean: Student Affairs at the UFS.
 
Night fund-raising and the selling of Ritsem in the city’s suburbs will, however, continue. 
 
Although the UFS do not expect the new measures to be detrimental to fund-raising efforts, Rag Community Service currently considers new supporting proposals for the raising of funds for community projects in order to address any possible reduction in funds. 
 
Mr Buys also has an agreement with Ms Pistorius to assist Rag Community Services in the planning of new projects.
 
The Night fund-raising in suburbs will take place on Tuesday 24 January and Thursday 26 January and the UFS calls on residents to assist students and help them in the important task at hand.
 
Three Rag processions will take place on Saturday 28 January 2012. At 10:00 two Rag procession will be leave for Heidedal and Mangaung, where the Kovsie Rag Community Service will hand out food parcels.
 
The main Rag Procession will leave the UFS at 18:00 and will move towards the Old Greys sports ground for the Rag concert with Die Heuwels Fantasties and DJ Black Coffee.

Media Release
25 January 2012
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

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